Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Monday, 13 June 2022:
Deuteronomy 9:1, 6 – Go in to dispossess nations greater and mightier than you…. Know, therefore, that the Lord your God is not giving you this good land to possess because of your righteousness, for you are a stubborn people.
Humility is at the heart of Christian faith. How easy is it for us to lose sight of our total dependence on God’s mercy and grace. Today, we read how God was going to lead the Israelites to a victory they could never have achieved without Him so He would be glorified through them. However, God also knew that the Israelites would grow prideful in the success He provided them, as if they had anything to do with it. Similarly, we have a tendency to grow prideful, which leads to self-righteousness and self-centeredness. “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” (Proverbs 16:11)
- James 4:6 — But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”
We are saved by grace. God gives grace to the humble, not to the prideful. God opposes the prideful. Jesus began His public earthly ministry with these words: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:3) Only when we truly appreciate the totality of our moral and spiritual bankruptcy, will we truly be amazed by grace and ready to experience the fulness of life in Christ. What pours out of a person is what is inside of them. The mark of a person who is truly filled with the grace of God is graciousness. A person who is saved by grace can only live by grace and give grace to all others, loving as Christ loved, forgiving regardless the personal cost.
Pride makes us judgmental of others and unforgiving, and Jesus reserves some of his harshest condemnation for those who would receive mercy, grace, and forgiveness from God but then refuse to give the same to others. Therefore, Jesus teaches us to pray to the Father, ‘Forgive us of our sins in the same way we forgive others.’ In our reliance on grace, we have no right to offer anything other than grace to those who offend us in some way. See how many ways Jesus reiterates this point as we continue to read this year.
2 Corinthians 12:6 – “…though if I should wish to boast, I refrain from it, so that no one may think more of me than he sees in me or hears from me.”
What you have done in the past (or what you think you have done) matters little compared with what you are now in Christ. If certain virtues are truly visible in your life, you won’t have to boast – what you are will be self-evident. Margaret Thatcher once said, “Being powerful is like being a lady; if you have to tell people you are, you aren’t.” Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Who you are speaks so loudly I can’t hear what you are saying.”
Jesus said, “You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit.” (Matthew 7:16-18) “For no good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit, for each tree is known by its own fruit…. The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.” (Luke 6:43-44) It is one thing to tell people you are a Christian, but it is another thing to display the fruit of the Spirit in your life. The Bible tells us exactly what this fruit is: “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” (Galatians 5:22, 23) Are you boasting about fruit in your life or producing fruit that is obvious to everyone who sees you?
- Proverbs 25:14 — Like clouds and wind without rain is a man who boasts of a gift he does not give.
- John 13:35 — By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
Jesus said, that all His true followers will bear fruit — “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.” (John 15:1-11)
Notice that in the above verses, the word “abide” is used ten times. The key to fruitfulness is abiding in Jesus, remaining “in” Him. Abiding is present tense, not something we did, but something we must do continuously, like breathing. When we are abiding in Jesus, we produce obvious fruit, and therefore, there is no need to talk about the kind of fruit we can produce or once produced. “Bear fruit in keeping with repentance.” (Matthew 3:8) Notice too that Jesus is the reason for fruitfulness, apart from Him, we can do nothing truly virtuous.
- Proverbs 27:2 — Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; a stranger, and not your own lips.
- Ephesians 2:8, 9 — For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
- 1 Corinthians 4:7 — For who sees anything different in you? What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it?
- 2 Corinthians 11:30 — If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness.
- 1 Corinthians 1:31 — So that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”
- Jeremiah 9:23-24 — Thus says the Lord: “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the Lord.”
- Galatians 6:14 — But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.
If there is anything about us which might be praiseworthy, it can only be a gift from God, and all praise, honor and glory must go to Him. We can only boast about Jesus Christ, and in fact, that is our purpose and calling, to glorify Him to all creation – “…they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.” (1 Peter 2:12) God forbid that we should seek any praise, glory, or honor for ourselves apart from those coveted words from our Lord, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 13 Jun 22:
From Deuteronomy 9: Consider your pridefulness. Watch out if you view yourself as humble. Repent, receive forgiveness, and give forgiveness to others unconditionally. Observe how much grace you naturally give to others as an indicator of how appreciative you really are for the grace you have received through Christ. – “Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.” (Luke 7:47)
- Philippians 2:5-8 — Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
From 2 Corinthians 12: Boast in the Lord, never in yourself. Let you good deeds testify to the reality of Christ in your life and never miss the opportunity to tell people why you are different:
- Ephesians 2:8 — For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,
- Galatians 2:20 — I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
- 2 Corinthians 5:17 — Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
- 2 Peter 1:3-8 — His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.